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Avoiding Grandparent Scams

Published: May 9, 2023

Sadly, scammers have been preying on older adults for years. Recently, grandparent scammers have stolen larger amounts of money from Massachusetts seniors more often. They are using more sophisticated techniques via email and phone to scam seniors into giving them large amounts of money. Grandparent scams are among the lowest form of scamming, because the scammer makes the older adult fearful that if they don’t give the scammer some form of payment, their grandchild could be sent to jail, denied medical care after an accident overseas, or even kidnapped.

Here are a few ways to avoid grandparent scam phone calls.

1. Don’t answer calls from unknown callers. Screen your calls using voicemail.

2. Never give personal or account information to someone who called you. Trusted sources will not ask for this information.

3. Verify the identity of the caller. Hang up and call back your grandchild or child to verify their identity.

4. Hang up on anyone who pressures you to send them money or gift cards.

5. Never send money or gift cards to anyone you don’t know.

Scammers are getting more sophisticated with how they steal money. Learn how from this FTC article.

What Grandparent Scammers Do

Grandparent scammers call older adults and pretend to be their grandchild or to represent a grandchild. They say that the grandchild has been in an accident or has been arrested, which scares the grandparent. Sometimes, they threaten to kidnap a grandchild, or say they have kidnapped them. They then ask for money to be wired to them, withdrawn from the bank, or put into a bank card. The reason for this is so the money they steal becomes harder to trace. They will not want a check!

Recently, grandparent scammers have started using voice changing technology to help them sound like a grandchild in distress. This can be very disturbing, but it is best not to trust anyone claiming to be your grandchild unless you are absolutely certain it is them. Caller ID can be helpful, however, scammers can also make it look like a call is coming from a trusted source. Your best option is to hang up on anyone making claims like these. Then, call your grandchild and their parent yourself to see if they answer and can verify the situation.

What to Do About Scammers

If you ever feel scared, pressured or threatened by someone who has called you, hang up. Trust your instincts! If they talk about kidnapping someone and holding them for ransom, call the police. And remember to never give out personal or account information to anyone you do not know.

Report Scamming Attempts

Any attempt at financial exploitation of elders should be reported so the police can track down the scammers. Reporting attempted scams will help shut down scammers before they victimize anyone else. To report a scam, call the police, or call the Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-922-2275.

If you would like more information about grandparent scams, read this article from Senior Care Inc. of the North Shore.

Scammers make a living out of scaring people into sending them money. Do your best to keep your composure and not let fear take over. Ignore threatening emails. If you feel uncomfortable or scared when someone calls you, just hang up and report it to the Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline.

Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-922-2275

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